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Ashe County Man Keith Simmons Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison on May 23 After $40 Million Ponzi Scheme

May 23, 2012. On Wednesday, May 23, former Black Diamond Capital Solutions Keith Franklin Simmons of Ashe County was sentenced to 50 years in prison. This stems from a ponzi scheme he was behind from 2007 to 2009, in which he made $40 million from approximately 400 investors across the country.

Simmons, 47, will also be required to serve three years under court supervision after his prison term and pay $35.3 million in restitution.

According to a pre-sentencing report, Simmons’ case was called “the worst financial crime in this district in memory.”

“What makes this case particularly troubling is that from the beginning this defendant had no intention of investing a single dime of the victims’ money,” said Anne Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. “Simmons made slick presentations to his victims about lucrative investment returns that were filled with lies and deceit. Simmons was a con artist who pocketed people’s savings to finance his own lavish lifestyle and went to great lengths to cover up his crimes. The impact of Simmons’ fraud has been devastating to his victims who trusted him with their hard-earned money.”

Simmons and co-conspirators induced over 400 victims nationwide to invest more than $40 million in Black Diamond through a series of false representations, including claims that Black Diamond was generating profits of more than 48 percent annually in the foreign currency trading market. Simmons never invested the funds in any foreign currency market. Rather, according to court records, he used his victims’ money to fund his own lavish lifestyle.

Simmons was arrested by FBI agents in December of 2009 and held without bond. In August 2010, a superseding bill of indictment charged him with one count of securities fraud, one count of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.

“Keith Simmons preyed on the elderly and the vulnerable, swindling his victims out of millions of dollars,” said Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Charlotte. “This case is a stark reminder to the con artists who run these schemes they will face lengthy prison sentences and it is a lesson to investors to be cautious and to question promises of large payoffs.”

In December of 2010, Simmons was convicted on all four counts by federal jury prior to his sentencing today.